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  • Writer's pictureKate

Recipe: Rich and Delicious Rhubarb Chutney

This is a lovely dark chutney with rich complex flavours, including a subtle rhubarb tang.


  • 1kg rhubarb

  • 300g sultanas or raisins

  • 2 large/4 small onions

  • 700g sugar (white or brown – it doesn’t make much difference in chutneys as a rule)

  • 500ml vinegar (white or red wine vinegar or cider vinegars work best- preferably not malt or pickling vinegar as the flavour will be a bit overpowering)

  • 1tsp mixed spice

  • 1tsp ground ginger OR a small knuckle of fresh root ginger, finely chopped

  • 1tbsp black peppercorns, ground

  • 1tbsp coarse salt or 2tsp fine salt (fine salt packs more densely than coarse salt so you need to adjust the quantities).

  • Optional: Chilli flakes or cayenne pepper to taste (I have to leave this out or face objections from the rest of the household…)

You will also need

  • A large pan,

  • A sharp knife and chopping board,

  • A wooden spoon,

  • A large spoon or ladle,

  • 6 or so standard sized glass jars with lids or cellophane covers to seal.

  • If you have a jam funnel this is also helpful. If you spill any chutney you will need a clean, wet cloth to clean it up again, and a teatowel to tighten lids without burning fingers is a nice extra to have too.


  • Chop the rhubarb and onions into fairly small pieces.

  • Put all the ingredients into your pan

  • Gently bring to the boil, stirring regularly until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is runny - DO NOT add water- it will go runny after a little while by itself.

  • Get your jars ready by following the preparation instructions at the bottom of the post

  • Keep the mixture just boiling, stirring every few minutes until it has thickened so that your spoon briefly leaves a track through the chutney as you stir. The length of time this takes will depend on how hot you cook it, but it will probably be at least an hour and a half, and up to an hour longer than that if you cook it slowly.

You will need to stir more frequently towards the end of the cooking time as the chutney will probably try to stick to the bottom of the pan. This is more of a problem with gas and electric ring hobs which have quite small heat sources than with halogen or induction cookers. Thick-bottomed pans also help spread heat from the hob more evenly and reduce sticking.

  • Follow the jam jar preparation instructions to fill and seal your jars.

  • This chutney is lovely to eat straight away- but chutneys almost all taste better after maturing for at least a few weeks: The flavour becomes less acidic and more mellow.

Enjoy your chutney with curries, cheeses and any other foods that could do with a little spicing up…

Jam jar preparation

There are lots of ways to sterilise jars (and lids) for use. This is the one we usually use.

  • Wash the jars and lids in hot soapy water. If your jars have other flavours lingering in them (eg if they had something like pickles or curry paste in them before), add a little bicarbonate of soda (or baking powder) to the soapy water as a quick and easy way to get rid of the smell: This is not critical with something as strong flavoured as chutney, but is absolutely crucial with delicate flavoured jams!

  • If you leave the jars to soak for a while, the labels usually come off easily.

  • Do not dry the jars or lids.

  • Put the lids in a bowl or pan and pour over boiling water. Leave covered (with a plate or lid).

  • Put the jars on their sides or upside down in the oven at 160 degrees C for at least 15 minutes.

  • Once your preserve is ready, take the hot jars out of the oven and fill them straight away, taking care to keep the rims of the jars clean (this is where having a jam funnel is helpful).

  • Use a clean wet cloth to wipe any spilt jam off the rims or the jars will not seal properly and bacteria or fungi could get in.

  • Screw your lids onto the jars, tightening them using a clean tea towel so you don’t burn your fingers (or follow the instructions on the cellophane jam jar lids pack).

  • As the jars cool, you will hear popping noises from the lids as the safety buttons pop down- this is a good sign that your jars have sealed properly.

  • Once the jars are cool, push any safety buttons that haven’t gone down in and see if they stay down and check that any lids without safety buttons curve down a little in the middle.

  • Any lids with safety buttons that pop up haven’t sealed properly- store them in the fridge and use them first. If you are concerned that any other jars haven’t sealed, store them in the fridge too.

  • Properly sealed jars should keep in a cool dark place for at least a year.

*If selling your preserve it is recommended that you do not reuse lids, as the plastic seal on the inside can be damaged after the first use, risking the jam spoiling. We find lids are generally fine for reusing a number of times at home: Check that there is no visible damage to the inside of the lid, such as dents, scratches or rust spots on the plastic. Do not reuse lids (or jars!) with any signs of damage. Preserves containing vinegar are particularly problematic with damaged lids due to the acid reacting with the iron in the lid.

*Never put hot substances into cold jars- the change in temperature between the inside and outside of the jar can crack it, wasting your newly made preserve!

Alternatively, you can sterilise a few jars at a time by putting them damp into a microwave (check carefully for how long you need to do this depending on the power of your microwave) or using a hot cycle of a dishwasher timed to end a bit before your jam is ready.

Do not put metal jar lids or jars with any metal bands on them (eg Le Parfait jars, unless you take the metal off) into a microwave!

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